Sunday, April 24, 2011

Two non-fiction books I finished in the last week or so:

The Logical Leap: Induction in Physics by David Harriman is an attemp to apply Ayn Rand's theory of concepts to the area of induction.  It's an interesting book, and one that could be a starting point for many interesting philosophical discussions.  There have been some criticisms online of some of the historical points he makes, and some of those arguments could undermine the foundation he builds for his view of induction.  But in general, the arguments seemed solid and mostly convincing to me, though they could use further development and fleshing out.

A bonus is that his discussions of the history of physics and chemistry are compelling in and of themselves.  In particular, his history of how the atomic theory developed is the best I have read.

At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson is a an odd mix of a book.  It's built around the rooms of his home but at times the connection between the room and the topics discussed is tenuous at best.  But the topics covered are always interesting, from a history of lighting to a discussion of sewage and disease theory, and there are tons of interesting little facts and anecdotes.

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